Choirs from as far afield as India will be heading to Cardiff to compete at an international competition where the adjudicating panel will include a royal composer.
This is the second year of International Choral Festival Wales which will be held in Hoddinott Hall at the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay over the Easter weekend [19-21 April]. The Festival is the brainchild of one of Wales’ leading choirmasters, Eilir Owen Griffiths, former Music Director of Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod. He will also chair the adjudicating panel which will include Paul Mealor, who shot to worldwide fame after writing Ubi Caritas et Amor for the wedding of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge in 2011. Professor Mealor also composed Wherever You Are, which became the 2011 Christmas number one for the Military Wives under the baton of Gareth Malone.
Among the competitors will be a mixed choir called Mizoram Synod Choir from India. They will be battling it out against Codetta Youth Choir of Derry, Ireland; the Cantabile Choir of Hereford, England as well as a host of Welsh choirs.
According to Eilir Owen Griffiths, a senior lecturer in the Performing Arts at the University of Wales Trinity St David, the idea came from a discussion with members of his award-winning choir, CF1, about creating a choral festival that would attract choirs from across the world to the Welsh Capital.
The choirs will compete on Saturday 20 April, before coming together for a series of workshops on Easter Sunday.
The headline sponsor for this year’s event is the pioneering care organisation, Pendine Park, via their Pendine Arts and Community Trust which was set up to support arts-related and community activities. Griffiths said: “I’m thrilled we will be welcoming Mizoram Synod Choir and a host of other international choirs. We wanted to have an educational element to the Festival and have top choral experts on hand to both adjudicate and offer advice and guidance.
He added: “And with an array of Welsh choirs taking part, Côr Ger y Lli from Aberystwyth; Cordydd from Cardiff and Côr Godre’r Garth from Pontypridd, the standard is going to be high. I’m delighted we have international choirs attending, not just from India but from the Republic of Ireland and England too.”
He added: “I will be chairing the panel of adjudicators and will be joined by three others. Bernie Sherlock, who conducts the chamber choir, New Dublin Voices. She is also a lecturer in music at Dublin’s DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama having previously lectured for many years at Trinity College Dublin. She will be joined by two male adjudicators, Paul Mealor, and New Zealand Conductor Lachlan Craig who is flying over especially for the Festival.”
“It’s going to be a special event. I’m particularly delighted that Lachlan Craig is coming over for the Festival. He is the Musical Director and Conductor of the Auckland Youth Choir which, under his leadership, has grown to become one of New Zealand’s largest and most successful community choirs. Lachlan is in growing regular demand in New Zealand and abroad as a tenor soloist, conductor, teacher and adjudicator. He really is on the rise in choral circles. The work he is doing is remarkable and he really is going to be a huge name in the choral world for many years to come.”
“Of course putting a Festival such as this together is never an easy task and we couldn’t do it without the support of the Pendine Park Arts and Community Trust which is backing the event.”
“Their sponsorship means we have an overall main prize of £2,000 and prizes of £200 for each category. The categories include mixed choirs, single voice choirs and an open category, which includes a mixture of children and adults and/or specialise in a particular cultural tradition or style.”
“Places in all categories are filling up fast and it’s going to be a wonderful Festival featuring some amazing choirs. It’s our aim to make this event one of the major choral events of the year.”
Mario Kreft MBE the proprietor of Pendine Park Care Organisation says the Arts and Community Trust was established to support cultural and community initiatives. He said: “International Choral Festival Wales will bring together choirs from across the world in Cardiff for what will be an excellent competition and event.”
“I know Eilir well from his years as Music Director of the Llangollen International Music Eisteddfod and I know what he, and his team, are trying to achieve.”
“This is a Festival with huge potential and the quality of adjudicators is phenomenal. I’m looking forward to hearing these choirs perform both in competition and at cultural events over the three days at venues around Cardiff.”
“It’s going to be a wonderful Festival and a feather in the cap of Welsh choral music. There’s going to be something for everyone to enjoy and I’m delighted that my wife Gill and I are involved through our Pendine Park Arts and Community Trust.”